Finally,Kremlin says Russia has suffered ‘significant losses’ in Ukraine…..UN General Assembly suspends Russia from Human Rights Council

Yannick Izabayo

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that Russia had sustained “significant losses” in Ukraine, which its troops entered on February 24 in what it calls a “special military operation”. Russia’s defence ministry said on March 25, its most recent update, that 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed since the start of the campaign, and 3,825 had been wounded. Follow our live blog for all the latest developments.

Ukraine says 26 bodies have been found under two ruined buildings in Borodianka

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova on Thursday said 26 bodies had been found under two ruined buildings in the Kyiv region town of Borodianka, which is been being searched by the authorities after Russian troops occupying it withdrew.

In a televised briefing, Venediktova did not say if the authorities had established the cause of death, but she accused Russian troops of carrying out air strikes on the town before they seized control of it.

“Borodianka is the worst in terms of destruction and in terms of the uncertainty about (the number of) victims,” she said.

Revoke Russian investor passports, Zelensky urges Cyprus

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday urged Cyprus to revoke passports issued to Russians through an investment scheme and stop private yachts docking in its marinas. Zelensky made the plea during an address to the Cypriot parliament via live video link, the latest in a series of such speeches he has made to foreign legislatures after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I’m grateful to you for your moral stance. You reacted to the Russian invasion and banned the docking of Russian ships in your ports,” Zelensky said. He added that Cyprus has “tools to pressure” its traditionally close friend Russia, and urged Cypriot authorities to “close the ports” to all Russian private yachts.

Kremlin says Russia has suffered ‘significant losses’ in Ukraine

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that Russia had sustained “significant losses” in Ukraine, which its troops entered on February 24 in what it calls a “special military operation”.

Russia’s defence ministry said on March 25, its most recent update, that 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed since the start of the campaign, and 3,825 had been wounded.

Russia says it would have to ‘rebalance’ if Finland and Sweden join NATO

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that if Finland and Sweden joined NATO then Russia would have to “rebalance the situation” with its own measures.

Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which it says aims among other things to degrade Ukraine’s military potential and prevent it becoming a bridgehead for a NATO attack, has prompted the two Nordic countries to consider joining the US-led alliance.

If the two countries join, “we’ll have to make our western flank more sophisticated in terms of ensuring our security”, Peskov told Britain’s Sky News.

‘We must assume’ Russians committing more atrocities in Ukraine, Blinken says

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday it is likely that Russian forces are carrying out more “atrocities” in parts of Ukraine after bodies were found in the town of Bucha.

“For every Bucha there are many more towns Russia has occupied and more towns that it is still occupying, places where we must assume Russian soldiers are committing more atrocities right now,” Blinken told journalists after meeting foreign ministers from NATO and Ukraine in Brussels. He said the US had warned ahead of Russia’s invasion that part of the Kremlin’s “campaign plan was to inflict atrocities, was to target individuals, was to commit the kinds of crimes that we’re now seeing to terrorise civilian populations”.

“And so this, as we saw it, was part of the game plan all along,” he said.

US, allies have supplied Ukraine 25,000 anti-aircraft weapons, US general says

Ukraine has received about 25,000 anti-aircraft weapons systems from the United States and its allies, helping Kyiv prevent Russia from establishing air superiority that would have aided Moscow’s ground invasion, the top U.S. general said on Thursday.

Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States and its allies had also supplied Ukraine with 60,000 anti-tank systems. “The Ukrainians … are very, very thankful, extraordinarily thankful,” Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Ukraine says it needs ‘weapons, weapons, and weapons’

“NATO will be supporting Ukraine with more weapons and also delivery of the weapons that they have already promised to Ukraine,” FRANCE 24’s Dave Keating reported from Brussels.

We’ll get more details about what exactly that assistance is going to look like,” Keating continued. When Ukraine’s foreign minister entered this summit this morning, he said Ukraine needs three things: weapons, weapons, and weapons. So are they getting all the weapons that they want? That’s what we’re going to see here today. But we have very strong words there from the [NATO] Secretary-General Stoltenberg that they understand the gravity of the situation.”

UN General Assembly suspends Russia from Human Rights Council

The United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the Geneva-based Human Rights Council on Thursday with the US-led push garnering 93 votes in favor, while 24 countries voted no and 58 countries abstained.

‘Usual suspects’ supporting Russia at UN

As the UN assembly readies to vote on suspending Russia from the body’s Human Rights Council, “we’ve heard from countries that you might call the usual suspects when it comes to supporting Russia; we’ve heard already from Venezuela, Syria, Iran, North Korea, Kazakhstan that they will be voring against this resolution, saying that it’s politicised, that it won’t help move forward dialogue, that it will undermine efforts to move towards peace,” FRANCE 24’s Jessica Le Masurier reported.

NATO members agree to strengthen support to Ukraine, Stoltenberg says

NATO members have agreed to strengthen support to Ukraine and are providing a wide range of weapon systems to the country, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday following a meeting of foreign ministers. Stoltenberg told reporters that NATO members also agreed to do more to help other partners and shore up their ability to defend themselves, including Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

German intelligence service has radio intercepts on Bucha killings

German intelligence services have intercepted radio traffic of Russian soldiers discussing the killings of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, Spiegel reported Thursday, in what would be new evidence linking Moscow troops to the deaths.

Some of the audio material collected appears to relate to victims found dead along a main street in Bucha, the magazine said, citing a closed-door parliamentary briefing given by Germany’s foreign intelligence service BND. Among the intercepts was a soldier’s description of how he and his platoon mates shot a person on a bicycle.

Ukraine using landmines effectively against Russia, US general says

Ukraine is effectively using landmines in the conflict with Russia, forcing Russian armored vehicles into engagement areas where they are vulnerable to US-supplied anti-tank weaponry, the top US general told a Senate hearing on Thursday.

“That’s one of the reasons why you see column after column of Russian vehicles that are destroyed. So anti-tank or anti-personnel mines are very effective,” Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

After Kyiv win, Ukraine still faces significant battle in southeast, US general says

Ukrainian forces have successfully managed to counter Russia’s attempt to take Kyiv but a significant battle is still ahead in the southeast of the country, the top US general said on Thursday.

“There is a significant battle yet ahead down in the southeast, down around the Donbas, Donetsk region where the Russians intend to mass forces and continue their assault,” General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers during a hearing.

Conquering Mariupol will ‘take time’, pro-Russian separatist official says

A pro-Russian separatist official in eastern Ukraine said Thursday it was impossible to say how long it could take Moscow’s forces to fully seize the besieged city of Mariupol.

Mariupol, located in the country’s southeast between Russia-occupied Crimea and pro-Russian separatist regions in Ukraine’s east, has been the scene of some of the fiercest fighting.

Most recently, fighting has centred around the city’s Azovstal iron and steel works and port, said Eduard Basurin, a senior official in the self-proclaimed breakaway stronghold of Donetsk. In televised remarks, he described Mariupol’s industrial zone as a “city within a city”.

Last month, the paper said it could no longer operate in Russia after receiving warnings from communications watchdog Roskomnadzor for failing to properly identify an organisation deemed a “foreign agent” by the authorities in its publications.

Turkey says Black Sea countries discussed Ukraine war, floating mines

Defence ministers from Black Sea coastal countries held a video call on Thursday to discuss the war in Ukraine, mines floating in the sea and regional security, the Turkish Defence Ministry said, adding that the ministers had called for an immediate ceasefire.

In a statement, Ankara said the defence ministers of Turkey, Bulgaria, Georgia, Poland, Romania and Ukraine had met via video conference upon the invitation of Turkey, adding they held “very efficient” talks.

“Aside from the mines, the importance of cooperation in the Black Sea for peace, calm and stability was emphasised,” Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said after the meeting, according to his ministry, adding the ministers discussed possible steps to alleviate the humanitarian crisis and get aid to Ukraine.

Turkish military diving teams have so far detonated three separate floating naval mines in the Black Sea, while Romania has also defused a stray mine in its waters since the Ukraine war.

US ramps up sanctions on Russia 

The Biden administration announced it would expand and increase some of the same types of sanctions that have been seen in the past, with full blocking sanctions on two major Russian banks. These sanctions, like the previous ones, include a carve-out for energy purchases. FRANCE 24’s correspondent Kethevane Gorjestani reports from Washington, DC. “The goal of US sanctions is to continue to isolate Russia”

US Senate to vote on revoking Russia’s trade status, oil ban

The US Senate will take up legislation Thursday to end normal trade relations with Russia and to ban the importation of its oil. Both bills have been bogged down in the Senate, frustrating lawmakers who want to ratchet up the US response to Russia’s war with Ukraine.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to be held accountable for what Schumer said were war crimes against Ukraine.

The trade suspension measure paves the way for US President Joe Biden to enact higher tariffs on certain Russian imports. The bill banning Russian oil would codify restrictions Biden has already put in place through executive action.

sources:France24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS

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